With Chris Tillman’s injury rehab assignment completed and the Orioles needing a spot on their 40-man roster, they chose to designate the veteran right-hander for assignment today while selecting the contract of infielder Renato Núñez from Triple-A Norfolk.
Tillman returned to the organization after testing free agency, agreeing to a $3 million contract in spring training that included a possible $7 million in bonuses based on innings. However, he lasted only seven starts before going on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his lower back.
The struggles from last season carried over to 2018, with Tillman going 1-5 with a 10.46 ERA and 2.213 WHIP in only 26 2/3 innings. He allowed 31 earned runs (32 total) and 42 hits with 17 walks and 13 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.
The final start came on May 10 against the Royals, when Tillman surrendered five earned runs (six total) and walked three batters in only 1 1/3 innings. He was charged with seven runs and seven hits in one inning in his previous outing in Anaheim.
The back-to-back disasters followed seven scoreless innings on April 27 in Detroit, with Tillman holding the Tigers to only one hit in a 6-0 victory.
“Chris Tillman was a good pitcher for us for a long time and we gave him an opportunity to regain the form that had him as the ace of our staff and we gave him last year, we gave him this year and we gave him the rehab assignment, and it looks like that we’ve run out of time on Chris,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette.
“He did a great job for us over the years, but given that we’re in the rebuilding mode, we’re going to give the opportunity for those innings to some younger pitchers that maybe are going to help us build a more competitive team again.”
The Orioles gave Tillman the option of staying in the organization and pitching for Triple-A Norfolk, but he’s deciding whether to make the attempt to latch on with another club.
“He’s considering that,” Duquette said. “He has a chance to elect free agency, as well. That’s something he’s pondering.”
Tillman made six starts on his rehab assignment and allowed 20 earned runs (22) total and 36 hits in 26 2/3 innings.
“He completed his rehab assignment and we were required to reinstate him or designate him for assignment,” Duquette said.
The back issue seems to have been resolved. Tillman is fine physically, but still unable to recapture the form that made him an All-Star in 2013, twice a 16-game winner and the opening day starter from 2014-2016.
Tillman posted a 2.93 ERA in 15 starts in 2012, a 3.71 ERA in 33 starts 2013, a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts in 2014 and a 3.77 ERA in 30 starts in 2016. A shoulder injury disrupted his off-season and spring training leading into the 2017 season, when he was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA and 1.892 WHIP in 19 starts (24 games).
The back flared up this year, with an MRI confirming a strain.
“Chris represented that he’s healthy,” Duquette said.
Núñez is starting at third base tonight as the Orioles open a three-game series in Toronto. He’s wearing No. 39.
Tim Beckham replaces Manny Machado at shortstop.
For the Orioles
Tim Beckham SS
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Adam Jones CF
Mark Trumbo DH
Chris Davis 1B
Danny Valencia RF
Trey Mancini LF
Renato Núñez 3B
Caleb Joseph C
Dylan Bundy RHP